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CropChoice briefs: canola pollen spreads farther than first thought, corrections, NZ city council votes to ban GMO crops

(Nov. 26, 2001 -- CropChoice news) -- Canola, transgenic varieties included, can spread much farther than first thought, according to a story in the November 24 edition of New Scientist.

Studies at the Saskatoon Research Center in Canada have shown that canola can travel at least 800 meters. The Canadian government currently considers a separation distance of 100 meters to be safe for growing pedigree seed and 175 meters safe for the cultivation of food-grade canola.

What's more, some varieties of transgenic canola have cross-pollinated so that they have resistance to more than one herbicide and are living from one year to the next. In essence, they're becoming weeds.

This news bears out the concerns that farmers have about the economic viability of growing organic and conventional varieties of canola.

Source: New Scientist

See related stories:

In other news, here are a few corrections to our Nov. 14 opinion piece ( www.cropchoice.com/admin/HL_Edit.asp?recid=513) on New Zealand's decision to allow limited trials of genetically modified crops, followed by news of the Waitakere City Council voting to go "GE-Free"

First, the garlic that the Vallings grow is organic, not conventional, and they no longer raise beef cattle.

More importantly, between 92 percent and 95 percent of the submissions to the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification opposed use of the technology, not the 98 percent figure in the story.

Here are more links about the possible ecological impacts of transgenic crops -- www.hortnet.co.nz/publications/nzpps/proceedings/01/01_105.pdf

New Zealand city leaders vote to break free of biotech crops

(Nov. 16, 2001 -- CropChoice news) -- The Waitakere City Council in New Zealand signaled its strong opposition to genetic engineering.

Council members voted to declare the City, the fifth largest City in New Zealand, free from genetic engineering field trials and also to oppose the genetic modification of food items.

Mayor Bob Harvey says that leaves the way open for legitimate, and strictly controlled, laboratory research, particularly in the medical sector.

"We are clearly opposed to any form of field trials in this City," he says. "The evidence is that these things can get out of control and once released into the soil and the natural food chain we believe there could be catastrophic health and environmental effects."

Council staff will now look at ways of giving practical effect to the stance. "We may be able to look at our district plan to see how we can control GE related activities. And we will certainly be lobbying the government to tread very carefully down the GE path."

Mr Harvey says that since announcing his opposition to genetic modification he has received "huge support" from around the country.

The Council also decided to develop an organics industry "cluster." The City already focuses much of its economic development work in the areas of film, boat building and tourism.

"We believe the organics industry is a major industry of the future," Mayor Harvey says, "and Waitakere wants to attract national and international investment in it."